Previously unknown family treasures are discovered in creaky attics and musty storage rooms just often enough that most of us at some point wistfully imagine making a valuable discovery of our own – perhaps even a Stradivarius violin. The 1711 “Kreisler” Strad was such a remarkable find.
Around 1926, violin scholar Arthur Hill ran across an old reference to a Stradivarius violin that was supposedly in the possession of the Earl of Plymouth. Hill immediately contacted the current Earl’s estate and eventually convinced the man to make a thorough search of the large manor house. Some severely moisture-damaged instruments were found, but a Strad violin was not among them.
Hill convinced the Earl’s secretary to mount another search, and this time another case turned up. It had been ignored in the earlier search by the estate staff because it was locked. The lock proved no match for the determined Hill, and upon opening the case… there it was: a flawless Stradivarius violin.
And indeed, this Strad was found to be of exceptional quality. In 1928, Hill offered it to Fritz Kreisler, who became its owner, player and namesake. The “Kreisler” Strad is currently held by the LA Phil and played by their principal concertmaster Martin Chalifour.